relationship officer and enlisted

kristof

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Mar 26, 2018
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so currently, i am a rising sophomore at the academy who is interested in being a pilot, and i ended up meeting someone who i really like and plans on enlisting in the air force. i have heard stories of officer and enlisted relationships working, but would this be one of those time when an officer enlisted relationship is legal since we’re meeting before my GF plans on enlisting? i have read and reread the AFI to see if it’s true and am still confused.
 

Capt MJ

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Good for you on researching primary sources. Hearsay on this topic can vary widely from actual policy.

Do you have a link to any USAF or USAFA instruction that discusses the “previously existing relationship” element? It would most likely be in the USAFA guidance.

Though I am most familiar with Navy policy, the services are often roughly aligned. I am always interested in variance among service policies.

For example, “previously existing relationship” for USNA mids applies to two mids in a relationship. When one commissions and becomes an officer, and the relationship continues, “previously existing” applies. Otherwise, officer-midshipman, officer-enlisted, midshipman-enlisted, plebe-upperclass, are no-go’s. The “previously existing relationship” is narrowly applied.

I copied this from what I think is the latest AFI (2019):
“2.2.1. Similarly, the rank of cadet is a unique military rank reserved for cadets at the Air Force Academy and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. A cadet is neither enlisted, nor an officer. Dating, close friendships, and sexual relationships between cadets and officers or between cadets and enlisted personnel are prohibited. More specific guidance concerning relationships among different classes of cadets is left to the discretion of the United States Air Force Academy and Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps programs.”

For his or her sake and yours, you should be very clear on what the actual policy is. The senior member always bears the most responsibility. You may hear of or observe others not in compliance. That is a choice you may have to make, but do your due diligence to be clear on any potential consequences, and apply risk management as you see fit.
 
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shiner

USAFA Grad, Faculty 3yrs, ALO 7yrs, DS USMMA '24
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Good for you for checking into this @kristof ! I can say my roommate went to his first assignment after flight school and was kindly handed an article 15 and dismissal under other than honorable circumstances for frat between officer and enlisted. That is not the way anyone wants to go out and I can say it took years to recover in the private sector.

In my experience, the most common way this works is for two people to be enlisted. They are often married. Then, one member of the relationship goes to OCS and makes the transition. It's tricky, but they tend to find their way through it and like @Capt MJ indicated, the burden is on the senior ranking member to ensure they are compliant in all of their engagements which are likely to involve personal activities with members of both camps.
 

BBBRRRTT

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Really poor advice on a military forum.

Stealth_81
Yeah, That probably came across poorly...sorry....but I will be interested in what the final call is on this "exact" scenario. I am thinking it will be allowed, hence the "do what you want comment". Once again, my bad on how I originally stated this. Now in this specific scenario, if it is found to be inappropriate, then I would be very disappointed in the current regulations. Let's keep the debate contained to this immediate scenario right as it is stated, and not stray into the .... well some day when this pilot is in charge of this said enlisted individual....I am sure there are regulations on this, as it should be.
 

BBBRRRTT

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Yeah, That probably came across poorly...sorry....but I will be interested in what the final call is on this "exact" scenario. I am thinking it will be allowed, hence the "do what you want comment". Once again, my bad on how I originally stated this. Now in this specific scenario, if it is found to be inappropriate, then I would be very disappointed in the current regulations. Let's keep the debate contained to this immediate scenario right as it is stated, and not stray into the .... well some day when this pilot is in charge of this said enlisted individual....I am sure there are regulations on this, as it should be.
Also note this individual is not enlisted as of yet, hence the statement "do as you want". After greater consideration, I am going to have to respectfully disagree with the "poor advice" badge. You can ban me from the site again Stealth, permanently this time if you like, but I will proudly state my position as I am sure I am correct, even without researching it. Call it gut instinct!
 

flieger83

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Also note this individual is not enlisted as of yet, hence the statement "do as you want". After greater consideration, I am going to have to respectfully disagree with the "poor advice" badge. You can ban me from the site again Stealth, permanently this time if you like, but I will proudly state my position as I am sure I am correct, even without researching it. Call it gut instinct!
As one who has dealt with the military justice system on numerous occasions, including one case of frat (officer and enlisted) I think going with your "gut" in this case could be very dangerous.

The OP said he's read the AFI. I'm going to take it that he read AFI36-2909, 14 NOV 2019. I can see where it "might" seem a little...confusing however there are some key statements that one must know intimately.

1. "1.1 While personal relationships between Air Force members are normally matters of individual choice and judgment, they become matters of official concern when they adversely affect or have the reasonable potential to adversely affect the Air Force by eroding morale, good order, discipline, respect for authority, unit cohesion, or mission accomplishment. The needs of the institution will sometimes outweigh personal desires. The guidance in this instruction focuses on the impact of personal relationships on the interests of the Air Force as an institution. "

2. "2.2 Unprofessional relationships. Relationships are unprofessional, whether pursued on or off duty, when the relationship detracts from the authority of superiors or results in or reasonably creates the appearance of: favoritism, misuse of office or position, or the abandonment of organizational goals for personal interests."

3. 2.2.1. Similarly, the rank of cadet is a unique military rank reserved for cadets at the Air Force Academy and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. A cadet is neither enlisted, nor an officer. Dating, close friendships, and sexual relationships between cadets and officers or between cadets and enlisted personnel are prohibited. More specific guidance concerning relationships among different classes of cadets is left to the discretion of the United States Air Force Academy and Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps programs."

4. " 2.3.11. Other relationships and activities. Other relationships, not specifically addressed above, can, depending on the circumstances, lead to actual or perceived favoritism or preferential treatment and, if so, should be avoided."

5. " 3.2.3. Officers will not date or engage in sexual relations with enlisted members. (T0). Dating as set out here includes not only traditional, prearranged, social engagements between two members, but also includes contemporary social activities that may reasonably be perceived as a substitute to traditional dating. When evidence of fraternization exists, the fact that an officer and enlisted member subsequently marry does not preclude appropriate command action based on prior fraternization that violates this paragraph. "

Now, #3 and #5 are key, IMHO. You're a cadet, a three-degree, fine. You've met someone, again, fine. So...you date...they enlist...you're still a cadet. The very second they enter enlisted status, if you continue to date them you are in violation of 2.2.1. Notice, it does not say "but it's okay if you knew them prior." Moving forward, you decide to marry during June week. The second you do that you "may" fall afoul 3.2.3 depending upon who conducts the investigation, why, and when.

This is not something to trifle with. I knew a superb officer (pilot) that was dating an airman downtown, away from the base. I'm not privy to all that went on, etc...etc...however I remember being detailed to bring him to the commander's office and witness him being read his article 32 rights by a JAG officer. And then it got ugly.

If you REALLY think this could develop, then I would HIGHLY advise you to go speak to the ADC (area defense council) at USAFA and lay it all out and seek their advice. They'll know EXACTLY the "yes, no, and maybe" answers.

Lastly, BBBRRRTT said: " but I will proudly state my position as I am sure I am correct, even without researching it. Call it gut instinct!" I am completely sure that as long as the one person does NOT enlist, that you are correct. The moment they enlist, I am completely sure you are incorrect as the AFI is clear in that regard.

I think that's what Stealth_81 was saying.

Steve
USAFA ALO
USAFA '83
 

puzzled

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I'd also like to point out what could happen should your relationship end for whatever reason. Call me a downer, but it can happen especially considering the distance aspect. Obviously a relationship ending is a sad thing, but this can seriously affect your work/professional life and hers as well. Not worth the distraction in my opinion :(
 

OldRetSWO

USNA 78/parent 11/BGO for >25yrs
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Times change and some things liberalized (eg: cannabis in several states) and others have gone the other way like alcohol use or
fraternization in the military which we happen to be talking about here. All I can tell you is that it is a VERY bad idea. One of you
needs to change career plans or you are likely to run into very severe issues. In your case, given your current level at USAFA and
when she is likely to enlist, you could easily be looking at getting separated AND owing well over $100K.
 

Capt MJ

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When the USNA mids we sponsor would pose a “hypothetical” in this area, I would not tell them what to do, except to look up the applicable regulation and work through the things they would (hypothetically :rolleyes:) have to do to not get caught, if they chose to continue on the path. They were adults, they were free to choose, but take the time to brake the hormones for a minute and apply the concepts of military operational risk management.

Could they have cute pix together on social media? On their phone or laptop visible on room desk? Be seen in uniform together? Could they bring the person to a Dining Out, company tailgater, double date with another mid and GF/BF, be seen around Annapolis, be able to keep their stories straight, remember who knew and who didn’t know, be ready to routinely fib about being single, where they were going/what they were doing on a weekend away? Lie by omission? Tell parents or not? Tell parents to not talk about cute BF/GF on parents’ sites and their social media, not post pics? Look at parents and explain? Or lie to them?

Then, imagine consequences if caught. At USNA, it’s a major offense, so for 2/c and senior, that can derail leadership positions, make them ineligible for VGEP/IGEP master’s programs and medical school right after graduation, precipitate a tumble down the OOM, come up in warfare selection discussions, disrupt leave plans. Not to mention the impact on someone junior to them, for which the mid will be held primarily responsible.

Do the analysis, understand secondary and tertiary impacts and potential consequences, examine from every angle.
 

Emsa

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Asking purely out of interest but how would these rules apply to siblings (obviously not in terms of dating of sexual relationships before you ask but close friendships were also listed as a form of relationship). You clearly can't ask siblings not to have a relationship with one another but it seems like if you gain a sense of why the military is concerned about fraternization the same dynamic might exist. How do you negotiate a situation in which one sibling is enlisted and one is an officer? For example would the same issues with pics on social media exist?
 

justdoit19

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When the USNA mids we sponsor would pose a “hypothetical” in this area, I would not tell them what to do, except to look up the applicable regulation and work through the things they would (hypothetically :rolleyes:) have to do to not get caught, if they chose to continue on the path. They were adults, they were free to choose, but take the time to brake the hormones for a minute and apply the concepts of military operational risk management.

Could they have cute pix together on social media? On their phone or laptop visible on room desk? Be seen in uniform together? Could they bring the person to a Dining Out, company tailgater, double date with another mid and GF/BF, be seen around Annapolis, be able to keep their stories straight, remember who knew and who didn’t know, be ready to routinely fib about being single, where they were going/what they were doing on a weekend away? Lie by omission? Tell parents or not? Tell parents to not talk about cute BF/GF on parents’ sites and their social media, not post pics? Look at parents and explain? Or lie to them?

Then, imagine consequences if caught. At USNA, it’s a major offense, so for 2/c and senior, that can derail leadership positions, make them ineligible for VGEP/IGEP master’s programs and medical school right after graduation, precipitate a tumble down the OOM, come up in warfare selection discussions, disrupt leave plans. Not to mention the impact on someone junior to them, for which the mid will be held primarily responsible.

Do the analysis, understand secondary and tertiary impacts and potential consequences, examine from every angle.

DONT tell you mom to lie. I would 100 pct forget and mess that up in a minute....

Wow. This post gave me anxiety!!
 

Capt MJ

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Asking purely out of interest but how would these rules apply to siblings (obviously not in terms of dating of sexual relationships before you ask but close friendships were also listed as a form of relationship). You clearly can't ask siblings not to have a relationship with one another but it seems like if you gain a sense of why the military is concerned about fraternization the same dynamic might exist. How do you negotiate a situation in which one sibling is enlisted and one is an officer? For example would the same issues with pics on social media exist?
Mixed ranks among siblings is more common than you would think, and many parents are still on AD when children come in. Those are familial relationships. Common sense and professionalism apply. No issue of fraternization, unless something inappropriate happened where favoritism was shown, but efforts would be made to ensure they are never in a chain of command together. A USNA sponsor daughter had her newly minted Marine enlisted brother come give her first salute on Comm Day. Major photo op of a special moment.
 

BBBRRRTT

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As one who has dealt with the military justice system on numerous occasions, including one case of frat (officer and enlisted) I think going with your "gut" in this case could be very dangerous.

The OP said he's read the AFI. I'm going to take it that he read AFI36-2909, 14 NOV 2019. I can see where it "might" seem a little...confusing however there are some key statements that one must know intimately.

1. "1.1 While personal relationships between Air Force members are normally matters of individual choice and judgment, they become matters of official concern when they adversely affect or have the reasonable potential to adversely affect the Air Force by eroding morale, good order, discipline, respect for authority, unit cohesion, or mission accomplishment. The needs of the institution will sometimes outweigh personal desires. The guidance in this instruction focuses on the impact of personal relationships on the interests of the Air Force as an institution. "

2. "2.2 Unprofessional relationships. Relationships are unprofessional, whether pursued on or off duty, when the relationship detracts from the authority of superiors or results in or reasonably creates the appearance of: favoritism, misuse of office or position, or the abandonment of organizational goals for personal interests."

3. 2.2.1. Similarly, the rank of cadet is a unique military rank reserved for cadets at the Air Force Academy and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. A cadet is neither enlisted, nor an officer. Dating, close friendships, and sexual relationships between cadets and officers or between cadets and enlisted personnel are prohibited. More specific guidance concerning relationships among different classes of cadets is left to the discretion of the United States Air Force Academy and Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps programs."

4. " 2.3.11. Other relationships and activities. Other relationships, not specifically addressed above, can, depending on the circumstances, lead to actual or perceived favoritism or preferential treatment and, if so, should be avoided."

5. " 3.2.3. Officers will not date or engage in sexual relations with enlisted members. (T0). Dating as set out here includes not only traditional, prearranged, social engagements between two members, but also includes contemporary social activities that may reasonably be perceived as a substitute to traditional dating. When evidence of fraternization exists, the fact that an officer and enlisted member subsequently marry does not preclude appropriate command action based on prior fraternization that violates this paragraph. "

Now, #3 and #5 are key, IMHO. You're a cadet, a three-degree, fine. You've met someone, again, fine. So...you date...they enlist...you're still a cadet. The very second they enter enlisted status, if you continue to date them you are in violation of 2.2.1. Notice, it does not say "but it's okay if you knew them prior." Moving forward, you decide to marry during June week. The second you do that you "may" fall afoul 3.2.3 depending upon who conducts the investigation, why, and when.

This is not something to trifle with. I knew a superb officer (pilot) that was dating an airman downtown, away from the base. I'm not privy to all that went on, etc...etc...however I remember being detailed to bring him to the commander's office and witness him being read his article 32 rights by a JAG officer. And then it got ugly.

If you REALLY think this could develop, then I would HIGHLY advise you to go speak to the ADC (area defense council) at USAFA and lay it all out and seek their advice. They'll know EXACTLY the "yes, no, and maybe" answers.

Lastly, BBBRRRTT said: " but I will proudly state my position as I am sure I am correct, even without researching it. Call it gut instinct!" I am completely sure that as long as the one person does NOT enlist, that you are correct. The moment they enlist, I am completely sure you are incorrect as the AFI is clear in that regard.

I think that's what Stealth_81 was saying.

Steve
USAFA ALO
USAFA '83
Thank you for the explanation. Seems fair to me.
 

Capt MJ

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OP, OP, where are you? Have you been crushed under this weight of posts, kindly meant? We recognize the heart wants what the heart wants, and military regulations can seem onerous and inhumane at times.

Whatever you do, don’t go shop around for opinions that sound better, such as the cadet down the hall whose older sister was a grad who says she knew someone had a friend in a situation like this and it was all totally cool.
 
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BBBRRRTT

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Thank you for the explanation. Seems fair to me.
Not that this is realistic, but I will ask for all those that it may apply. Say person B enlists say in Cadet Person A's senior year. Person B graduates from Basic training and the following week person A graduates and commissions. No contact is made during any of this time. Can person A marry enlisted person B the day after graduation?
 

BBBRRRTT

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Not that this is realistic, but I will ask for all those that it may apply. Say person B enlists say in Cadet Person A's senior year. Person B graduates from Basic training and the following week person A graduates and commissions. No contact is made during any of this time. Can person A marry enlisted person B the day after graduation?
Never mind, 3.2.3 covers that scenario. Well that stinks:)
 
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